Violence which erupted ahead of the Central African Republic's general election at the end of December has forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes in search of safety, the U.N. refugee agency says.
The agency reports around 100,000 people are displaced inside C.A.R., with another 92,000 refugees crossing into the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the rest going to Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Congo.
UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov says conditions are particularly dire for the tens of thousands of refugees in the DRC, who are scattered across 40 localities in remote, hard-to-reach areas.
"The needs are acute for food, for shelter," he said. "We also need health support. The threat of the spread of diseases, including COVID-19 is there. That means that we need to see more humanitarian actors involved."
For that to happen, he says the international community must be more generous in supporting aid operations. So far, only two percent of this year's $151.5 million U.N. funding appeal for the C.A.R. has been received.
Cheshirkov says continuing volatility inside the Central African Republic is hampering aid from reaching those who are internally displaced. In addition, he says, the presence of armed groups in two IDP camps is further endangering people sheltering there.
"What we are receiving is very troubling reports of human rights violations as these armed groups are moving, some of them retreating and they are moving to villages," he said. "We are hearing reports of pillaging, of sexual violence that is increasing rapidly, and the situation is really concerning."
The UNHCR is calling on the armed groups to stop the violence and resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue.
Source: Voice of America